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Press Release for Book “Korean Maritime Sovereignty”
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published byKIPA
dateSeptember 2012

Press Release for Book “Korean Maritime Sovereignty”

How has Dokdo been Korean territory?

How has Ieodo been under Korean jurisdiction?

How has Donghae (the East Sea) has been named so?


Here comes a clear answer to these questions. The reply is sought more explicitly and succinctly in “Korean Maritime Sovereignty,” a book published by the state-run Korean Institute of Public Administration (KIPA).


This voluminous 553-page book deals with overall aspects of Korean maritime affairs under six headings, each consisting of subheadings. The book, largely authored by KIPA resident research fellow Park Chang-seok, covers a wide spectrum of maritime concerns ranging from Korea-related maritime sovereignty to widespread insular strife in Asian waters. The book goes deeper and wider with the display of a wide array of historical documents, ancient colorful pictures, and graphics on Korean waters and islands.


It will give readers a balanced view of the often-happening insular feud because the articles were written in such a way as to maintain neutrality based on foreign scholars’views and historical evidence. The book details studies of the historical appraisal of Dokdo and Ieodo, the East Sea-Sea of Japan controversy, colonial wrongdoings, the ROK-Japan fisheries agreements, the erroneous San Francisco Peace Treaty, and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), electronic navigational chart and Korean marine administration. It then widely chronicles Senkaku dispute, Kuril(e) wrangle and East China-South China islands rows.


In particular, this book is analytical and informative for UNCLOS researchers, judges of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and officials of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO). Its pages will provide a better understanding of Korean waters and islands in trouble.


As to Dokdo’s historical legitimacy, the book says that in 512 A.D., the Silla Kingdom (one of the Three Kingdoms of ancient Korea) conquered Usan-guk (Usan State), of which the main part was Ulleungdo. Since then, the Korean people have considered Dokdo to be a part of Ulleungdo. The subsequent Korean states, namely the Goryeo Kingdom (918~1392), the Joseon Kingdom (1392~1897), the Daehan (or Korean) Empire (1897~1910) and the Republic of Korea (since 1948), have exercised sovereignty over Dokdo.


Regarding legal legitimacy, the book says that the 1905 incorporation of Dokdo into Simane Prefecture by Japan was initiated as part of its strategic movement to win the Russo-Japanese War and was a preliminary step to colonize the Korean Peninsula. It was an illegal and invalid attempt made to violate Korea’s territorial sovereignty over Dokdo, which had already been fully established. Japan’s incorporation of Dokdo in 1905 was illegal under international law because the island was not terra nullius at the time when the measure was taken. The territorial sovereignty of Korea over Dokdo had been fully established with a new administrative division given to the island via Korean Imperial Order No. 41 (1900). Japan has never established its territorial sovereignty over Dokdo in any period of history, and Japan’s claim to the Korean island is nothing but a unilateral, invalid, and illegal attempt to infringe upon Korea’s territorial sovereignty over Dokdo.



As to bringing the Dokdo issue to an international tribunal, a remarkable self-contradiction exists in Japan’s position that while refusing to bring the issue of Diaoyutai/Senkaku Islands or the “Four Northern Territories” to the International Court of Justice, Japan asserts that the Dokdo issue should be solved through a decision from the Court.



Ieodo, a reef under the waters in Korea’s South Sea, 149 km from Marado, extends and expands Korea’s sea territory culturally, scientifically and intellectually as well as physically.


 When it comes to the East Sea issue, the name East Sea dates back more than 2000 years, which is 1700 years earlier than the first appearance of the name Sea of Japan in Mappamondo, the publication of the Italian missionary Matteo Ricci in 1602.


The author gives low credit to the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty which left out a provision on Dokdo ownership and resultingly gave a clue to Japan for its claim to Dokdo. He underestimates the treaty concluded between the Allies and Japan as a “twisted product of great power manipulations in pursuit of political interest.”In the process of drafting of the San Francisco Treaty, the United States vacillated between according the island area to Japan and to Korea, weighing its strategic interests caused from Japan’s decolonization and Korea’s anti-communization.



Touching on the controversy of the ROK-Japan fishery accord, the author argues that the new 1999 New Fisheries Agreement is confined only to fishery affairs and cannot affect territorial problems.


By all indications, this book will be the compass and map to understand Korean maritime sovereignty. This provocative and sweeping study will no doubt alarm and startle readers as well as reveals immediate and important lessons for marine administration policymakers, according to Park Eung-kyuk, head of the KIPA under Prime Minister.


Easily readable, the clean sheet, research approach to Korean maritime sovereignty is as important for foreigners as it is important to ocean researchers and students engaged in Korean maritime study.


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